'Populist wave in US, Europe is great for Israel'

Founder of Belgian People's Party tells Arutz Sheva wave of populism sweeping across West is a boon for Israel.

Yoni Kempinski,

Trump addresses crowd at Waukesha, Wisconsin
Trump addresses crowd at Waukesha, Wisconsin

While the left has decried the rising tide of populism across the United States and Europe, claiming it is tied to racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, the leader of one of the new wave of populist parties says the political revolutions reshaping the West are not connected to racism – and are a boon for Israel.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva at the 2nd Jerusalem Leaders Summit, Mischaël Modrikamen, founder of the Belgian People’s Party, discussed the nature of the populist wave and its implications for the Jewish state.

“[There is] a clear distinction between the right-wing, neo-Nazi, fascist movements – and they are – if you look at the [Greek party] Golden Dawn, or the [Hungarian] Jobbik [party]… they are fascist, racist, and anti-Semitic,” said Modrikamen.

“But then you have all these movements that are combatting the mainstream media and the mainstream parties that are made up of your citizens that are tending to the right but do not consider themselves right-wing or extremist and so on, that are rising in Europe… and they are, for many reasons, sympathetic to Israel. Because they see an example… Israel as a kind of example – if I may quote a religious word – a kind of ‘light unto the nations’.”

“What Israel is doing – up on its feet, fighting radical Islam, controlling its border, and being strong on its values and history and so on… is a kind of example, Israel.”

With the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the US, the Brexit vote in the UK, and polling suggesting populist candidates like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands winning upcoming elections, Modrikamen says Israel has reason to be optimist about the broader trend in European and American politics.

“The election of Trump, itself, of course will have influence on Europe, because the narrative is changing. But the same forces that got Trump elected in the States are also... working in Europe. Look, for example, at the elections soon in Netherlands, where [Geert] Wilders... will [likely] win the next election, will be the first party, and will be a candidate to be the Prime Minister.”

“These are the kinds of forces that are at work. That's certainly good for Israel. And I think that Israel does not realize [that]... You'll find, for example, the official policy of the [Israeli] Ministry of Foreign Affairs - they are very cautious about these populist movements. They don't know if they should have contact with them or not. [But] they are today the most sympathetic allies to Israel, for many reasons.”